background was far from good. But that did not become a hindrance to his becoming a saint. Thegrace of God does not flow through a royal family or anything connected with morality. The grace of God flows, depending on how receptive we are to it. So we need not be discouraged because our parents did not set us a good example or because we did not have a good upbringing. No matter whatyour background, the grace of God is able to do an excellent work in you.
“Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report”
IN THE SCHOOL OF GOD
Joseph was sent to work with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. Now, the sons of Bilhah andZilpah were wicked boys. One of Bilhah’s sons, Dan, in the words of his own father, was ‘a serpent bythe way, an adder in the path’ (Gen.49:17). And Gad, one of Zilpah’s sons, was ‘a tearing lion’(Deut.33:20). When Joseph got home, the other brothers were there too. There were the bad-temperedSimeon and Levi who were fierce and cruel boys. ‘O my soul, come not thou into their secret; untotheir assembly,’ sighed their own father (Gen.49:6). And Issachar was like a strong donkey!(Gen.49:14). Poor Joseph! With lion-like and snake-like people at his working place and at home, lifemust have been very hard indeed! Oppressed and harassed on all sides, and no one at all to set him anexample!Child of God, are there people like serpents in your working place? Are they spewing out bitter poison at you whenever they open their mouth? Is it as if the poison of vipers is under their tongue?And is your boss like a tearing lion, boisterous and hot-tempered and roaring at you all the time? Back at home too, you might be living with unkind and hot-tempered people.Do not forget that it is the Lord Who chooses the people we are placed with. Joseph was bornwhen Jacob was around ninety and he loved him dearly. Besides, Jacob was very rich and had manyservants. In spite of this, he sent Joseph out to work in the fields with those bad boys. It might appear as if his father was being hard on Joseph. Our heavenly Father has a plan in placing us in difficultsituations and amidst difficult people. If you are being pushed and pulled and crushed on all sides,understand that the Lord is giving you a crash course—He wants to make you a saint quickly. If everyone around us is a saint, we will not become saints. Our patience, humility, etc., will not be putto test. As they would put up with our anger, impatience and pride, we would remain angry, impatientand proud! It takes a lot of rubbing for our character to be shaped. Diamonds are formed when layersof wood are subjected to excessive heat and pressure for a long period of time. So, be careful how youreact to difficulties.God was taking Joseph through a crash course to mould him for his future. Joseph successfullycompleted his course and came out in flying colours. We need to find out why the Lord has given usdifficult people to deal with in our homes or in our working place. Instead, if we become irritable,resentful and bitter, or envious, selfish and hateful, and murmur and complain and speak ill of others,or become bitter with God, we fail in the school of God. Our character cannot get moulded and God’s purpose cannot be fulfilled in our life. Child of God, how do you cope with difficult and trying people? When accused of things you have not done, when persecuted for the good you have done, if you have spiritual insight, you will be very happy. “Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful work You aredoing in my life,” you will say!When some are placed with evil people, they change and become like them. But Joseph was notinfluenced by his brothers’ wicked ways. He did not become like them. If God is influencing our life,no person, no place, no circumstance—nothing can influence us. But if God is not the greatestinfluence in our life, circumstances will get the better of us. Wherever we go, like the chameleon, wewill conform to those around us.